Deployment ceremonies were held yesterday at The Monument in Rapid City for more than 100 members of the South Dakota Army National Guard’s 235th Military Police Company.
The soldiers will spend most of this year as correctional officers at the U-S prison camp known as Gitmo – Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Governor Kristi Noem told the gathering she can’t imagine what the coming months will be like for the Guard members, but that she is “ever so grateful” for their willingness to leave their families and jobs behind to help keep the nation safe.
Congressman Dusty Johnson, South Dakota’s lone U-S House member, said the country has demanded more from its citizen soldiers in the last 20 years than ever before, making it “remarkable” that they keep giving and giving.
Johnson called the willingness of the soldiers to “raise their hand and join the National Guard…a tremendous gift to western civilization and American values,” adding that “we simply cannot say thank you enough.
After leaving South Dakota, the 235th will spend a month at Fort Bliss, Texas, for additional training that includes working on tactics and procedures for taking care of prisoners.
The unit will spend about 9 months at Guantanamo Bay, then return to Fort Bliss for a month of demobilizing, debriefing, and decompressing before coming home to South Dakota, probably in mid-to-late November.